Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/30

Game 1: Friday, November 30th
Game 2: Friday, January 4th
Game 3: Monday, January 21st
Game 4: Sunday, April 7th

Nuggets 89


Clippers 102

(21-21, 18-7 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 21, 2002

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 21 31 19 1889
    LAC 37 22 16 27102

    Top Performers

    Den: N. Van Exel 19 Pts, 7 Reb, 10 Ast

    LAC: E. Brand 31 Pts, 14 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 6 Blk

    Brand turns it up with Odom out

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- With Lamar Odom sidelined, Elton Brand knew he had to carry some extra weight for the Los Angeles Clippers.

    He did so, and more.

    Brand scored 31 points -- most by a Clipper this season -- grabbed 14 rebounds and had a season-high six blocked shots Monday night as the Clippers pulled way in the final nine minutes to beat the slumping Denver Nuggets 102-89.

    "Elton Brand was sensational," Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. "I think it will be a crime if he's not on the All-Star team, for what he's done as an individual and what he's done for the team. He was just great."

    Brand, who made 11 of 17 shots and 9 of 12 free throws while playing 42 minutes, came to the Clippers in a draft-day trade from the Chicago Bulls for rookie Tyson Chandler and forward Brian Skinner.

    So far, the deal has been a steal.

    "I try not to think about Lamar being out, he's an asset to the team," Brand said of Odom. "When he's out, we still have to play. I just wanted to win the game, I just wanted to be very assertive."

    Odom, averaging 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists, missed his second straight game due to a sore right wrist.

    Quentin Richardson, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds, scored five points to spark a 9-1 run that turned a 79-77 Los Angeles lead into a 10-point advantage with 6:25 remaining.

    The Nuggets (12-28), who lost their 14th straight road game and their 14th in 17 games overall, weren't closer than eight points after that.

    Michael Olowokandi had 14 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, and Jeff McInnis added 13 points for the Clippers (21-21).

    Nick Van Exel led the Nuggets with 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Voshon Lenard added 16 points and Zendon Hamilton had a career-high 13 points and 10 rebounds.

    The Clippers led by as many as 20 points in the first quarter, but the Nuggets chipped away, and finally took a 71-69 lead -- their first of the game -- on back-to-back 3-pointers by Van Exel late in the third period.

    However, two baskets by Brand and another by McInnis put the Clippers on top 75-71 entering the fourth quarter, and they led the rest of the way.

    "We've got to come in with more focus," Denver's Avery Johnson said. "We're not ready to play. You come back, it looks good, the Nuggets are putting up a good fight. We have to come in ready to play and not dig holes for ourselves."

    Olowokandi had 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks in the first quarter, which ended with the Clippers on top 37-21.

    Lenard scored 13 points and Johnson added eight in the second period as the Nuggets outscored the Clippers 31-22 to draw within seven points at halftime.

    "We spotted them about 19, 20 points," Nuggets coach Mike Evans said. "We made a heck of a run. When you expend that kind of energy, you're going to run out of gas. I think that happened tonight.

    "We have to get some healthy bodies back. The sooner that happens, the sooner we'll be able to compete."

    The Nuggets face the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers on Tuesday night in Shaquille O'Neal's return after a three-game suspension.

    "Scared, scared, the way they beat San Antonio the other night, very scared," ex-Laker Van Exel said when asked about facing his former team.

    McInnis, averaging 13.6 points and a team-leading 5.1 assists, missed the Clippers' shootaround earlier in the day and was replaced by Earl Boykins, who had six points and four assists in his first NBA start.

    McInnis, who started the Clippers' first 41 games, entered for the first time at the beginning of the second quarter.

    Game notes
    Odom said he hopes to return Wednesday night against the Lakers, but didn't sound very optimistic. "I'm kind of frustrated, being hurt," he said. "The pain is just too much." ... The Nuggets, coming off a 104-77 loss at Seattle, played without Scott Williams, who sat out his fifth game because of a sore lower back, and George McCloud, who missed his eighth with a strained right calf. ... Clippers G Eric Piatkowski had a career-high nine assists to go with nine points. ... The Clippers have played an NBA-high 25 home games, and their 18 wins at home are tied with Minnesota for second behind Sacramento's 23. However, their 3-14 road record is the third-poorest in the NBA, ahead of Chicago (1-18) and Denver (2-16). ... The Clippers signed G Eldridge Recasner to a second 10-day contract.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 89 102
    FGM-FGA 37-91 (.407) 42-85 (.494)
    3PM-3PA 5-16 (.313) 3-15 (.200)
    FTM-FTA 10-14 (.714) 15-24 (.625)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 18-41 18-50
    Assists 21 26
    Turnovers 10 10
    Steals 3 3
    Blocks 3 14
    Fast Break Points 0 0
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 16 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Nick Van Exel Van Exel
    Points: 19
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Elton Brand Brand
    Points: 31
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 6